Central Chile rattled by strong earthquake


A strong magnitude-6.7 earthquake shook central Chile, prompting authorities to order a preventative evacuation of a stretch of coastline and causing hundreds of people in the capital to flee buildings in panic.

There were no immediate reports of damage or deaths, but the quake was felt for almost a minute in the port city of Valparaiso and in the capital, Santiago.

The Chilean navy's hydrographic and oceanographic service discounted the possibility of a tsunami, but authorities maintained an order for people to move to higher ground along a roughly 500-miles stretch of coastline running from the city of Constitucion to Tongoy, north of the capital.

The US Geological Survey said the quake's epicentre was 26 miles north east of Valparaiso, and it had a depth of 23 miles.

It struck just minutes before midnight local time.

The quake knocked out power and telephone service in various parts of Santiago, but the National Emergency Office of the Interior Ministry said that it had received no reports of major damage or injuries so far.

There were reports of rockslides on a road outside of Santiago, and residents of Valparaiso said the facades of some old buildings had fallen.

Public Works Minister Laurence Golbourne said that that Chile's airports and roadways appeared undamaged.

Chile is highly earthquake-prone. A magnitude-7.1 earthquake struck central Chile on March 25, the strongest and longest that many people said they had felt since a huge quake devastated that region two years ago.

In 2010, the 8.8-magnitude quake caused a tsunami that obliterated much of the coastal area of the central Chilean city of Constitucion.